Secret Agent Envy

We recently introduced an innovative accessory that expands portable storage while enhancing data security for ThinkPad fans. My team really enjoys designing these kind of accessories. It gives them a chance to imagine how to connect ThinkPad design DNA to a product that often is highly unique and allows us to enhance the ThinkPad user experience. We have done designs for ThinkPad external keyboards, travel mice, and carry cases in the past. Yes they are black with a small red accent, but we strive to give them all a innovative twist that drives desire. The design challenge for the ThinkPad USB Portable Secure Hard Drive, I prefer to call it "the vault," was to create an object that linked to the ThinkPad design essence but also embodied the appropriate design solution for such a critical product. We wanted it to look simple, solid, and of course ultra secure. I think we achieved that goal. One review I read recently remarked that using it "will make you look, feel more important than you are" and that it would be handy for you always on-the-go, James Bond types. Sure Bond wants one, but so do I. I can close my eyes and imagine pulling this one out of the glovebox of my Aston Martin (If only I had one) in order to thwart yet another sinister plot to take over the world. ThinkPad is so "on-brand" for this mission.

Even a design so seemingly simple as this one requires a great deal of analysis, concept generation, modeling, refinement and of course design thinking to create. The initial studies focused on developing a simple and pure form that featured a deliberate and nearly militaristic keypad design. We also wanted to create a way to store and hide the USB cable when not in use, in order to preserve the simplicity of execution. I feel a bit like "Q" when I write this stuff. Sketches and rough study models were created to study the form as well as keypad layout and key shapes. Here are a few of the "unclassified" models and sketches from the lab that led to the final design.

The final design is a pure rectangular form with a no-frills, asymmetrically placed keypad. Spots of color reinforce the significance of the code entry and cancel keys. The keys themselves are slightly recessed to protect them from accidental use and are slightly domed. They pay tribute to my old Braun calculator designed by Dieter Rams. We offer both 160GB and 320GB models that use 128-bit encryption to ensure your data can't be unscrambled by the enemy. The drives can store up to 10 separate user ID's with 10 different security keys. The entire device neatly stores in a neoprene slipcase that reminds me of 007's wetsuit. Remember the time he wore one to keep his perfectly pressed tuxedo dry in Goldfinger? Up until now encrypting and decrypting your data was never quite so full of intrigue.

David Hill